Bastian Seeks Repayment of Up to $50 Million in Losses From Atlanta Airport Meltdown

As a result of an electrical power outage which forced the international airport which serves the greater Atlanta metropolitan area to completely shut down for approximately twelve hours on Sunday, December 17, 2017, the chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines is seeking up to $50 million in the repayment of losses.

Bastian Seeks Repayment of Up to $50 Million in Losses From Atlanta Airport Meltdown

“We will certainly be seeking the opportunity to have a conversation, and then seek reimbursement,” Edward Bastian said during a recent interview with Kelly Yamanouchi of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I don’t know whose responsibility it is between the airport and Georgia Power, but we’re going to have conversations with both of them.”

Hundreds of flights were canceled during that debacle, which caused tens of thousands of passengers to be inconvenienced for many hours either aboard airplanes or in the airport itself. Some people were without food, water and even access to toilet facilities for hours.

In addition to the cost of approximately 1,400 flights canceled flights and the issuance of travel waivers, Delta Air Lines also voluntarily reimbursed customers who booked reservations for hotel accommodations in Atlanta during that Sunday.

The official statement from Georgia Power is that the power failure involved a fire which caused extensive damage in an underground electrical facility operated by Georgia Power:

The fire was safely extinguished by fire crews before Georgia Power could enter the area to assess damage and begin repairs. The event impacted not only the underground facilities, but also substations serving the Airport and, while the cause is not yet known, Georgia Power’s system responded by isolating areas where equipment wasn’t operating correctly to ensure safety and minimize damage. No personnel or passengers were in danger at any time.

Georgia Power has many redundant systems in place to ensure reliability for the Airport and its millions of travelers — power outages affecting the Airport are very rare.


As you might have already guessed, the majority of the people who commented on the article written by Kelly Yamanouchi had little to no sympathy for Delta Air Lines: “What a greedy fool. It’s too bad passengers can’t sue Delta for lost revenue, time and expense, etc., whenever the airline is responsible for massive flight disruptions. Last spring’s computer system failure, stranding THOUSANDS for days, comes to mind. But passengers did get a sincere apology.”

Reader Rebekah Giambroni asked “Delta which passengers were lucky enough to be reimbursed for hotel stays? Certainly not my husband who got stranded in Minneapolis after his flight to Atlanta was cancelled. You told him he had to pay you to book him a room and that he would get a ‘distressed passenger’ discount. There was NO discount- it was the same price for a regular room on the hotel’s website! When he called about it, your employee said there was nothing they could do. Where is our reimbursement?”

I do not believe that Delta Air Lines is responsible for what happened; but could the situation have been handled better by the airline — especially as it operates greater than 75 percent of the flights in and out of the airport? One may argue in the affirmative, as the greatest concentration of flights operated by Delta Air Lines are in Atlanta — and when the airport fails in some manner, so almost automatically does the airline. Hopefully, revised and improved contingency plans will be designed and implemented by all of the entities responsible for what happened this past weekend.

Delta Air Lines had ended its interline agreements with many airlines — such as Emirates Airline and American Airlines — but in this situation, other airlines were not operating out of that airport either during the power outage; so interline agreements would have done little to alleviate passengers…

…which raises a more important question: is the need for a controversial second airport to serve the greater Atlanta metropolitan area even more important than ever as a result of the meltdown?

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

8 thoughts on “Bastian Seeks Repayment of Up to $50 Million in Losses From Atlanta Airport Meltdown”

  1. Gene says:

    @ Brian — Bastian should be fired for this display of greed. I guess ripping off loyal customers through unannounced serial mileage devaluations isn’t enough.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I have mentioned in many past articles how a lack of trust by customers can bite back at a company in the long run, Gene — here are two of them:

      Even though many people may agree with what you stated, that really has little to do with what happened this past weekend — but that consistent lack of trust by customers for Delta Air Lines in recent years is not giving any leeway for benefit of the doubt whatsoever.

      1. Gene says:

        @ Brian — You are right on spot. I’ve lost some trust in ALL airline and hotel programs, but I have no trust left in Delta. The result is that I despise their executives , while still loving their other employees. I sense that it is wrong of me to feel this way, but I don’t know what else to do. I honestly feel that Delta has stolen from me and my SO through their dishonest switch to a program where each mile is effectively assigned a fixed value of 1.2-1.3 cents. This change massively increases the company’s value and lines the pockets of Bastian, et al. I certainly won’t have their back when the economy falters.

  2. AlohaDaveKennedy says:

    Meh – turnabout is fair play. Delta made its award chart unavailable to airline customers so Georgia Power just made its electricity unavailable to airline customers. Go cry us a river, Bastian!

  3. Rjb says:

    If you give all your customers worthless SkyPesos, how did it cost $50 million? More like $4.92.

  4. D.A. says:

    Fast chance on any recovery from Georgia Power. Georgia state utility commission rules are pretty much stacked in Georgia Power’s favor, meaning there is no guarantee of continuous service and reimbursement for consequential damages. To that end, shame on Ed for not having a better “resiliency” and “business continuity” plan. He could’ve have mitigated a lot of this mess on his side of the debacle.

  5. Marshall says:

    An interline agreement with AA would have really helped Delta in this situation.
    If you were flying AUS-ATL-CHS or BHM-ATL-DCA or XXX-ATL-XXX
    you could be rerouted AUS-CLT-CHS, BHM-CLT-CHS, XXX-CLT-XXX.
    So an interline agreement would have kept many connecting passengers out of ATL altogether by rerouting them thru CLT or in some cases MIA or DFW. ATL is 66% connecting passengers so DL could have saved a lot of money by putting those passengers on other airlines while keeping everyone out of ATL.
    As far as compensation I’m guessing that DL is SOL! There’s no law that “guarantees” that the light company will always have electricity for you no matter what happens. DL and ATL should have had better generators or backup grids.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Interlining agreements would have definitely helped outside of Atlanta, Marshall — and perhaps would have limited the mess. I was basically concentrating on Atlanta itself, where interlining would have been practically useless.

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